The Government's 43-page document, Keeping workers and customers safe during Covid-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaways services, was released after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on 23 June that pubs would be allowed to reopen in July.
Prepared by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from businesses, unions, industry bodies and in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive, it explains how pubs and bars should safely resume trading.
Here are some of the key measures from the Government's guidance on how pubs should approach PPE and venue cleaning post-lockdown.
Cleaning before reopening
Firstly, pub and bar operators should conduct a thorough assessment of all site areas that have been closed before restarting work as well as reviewing cleaning procedures and their ability to provide hand sanitiser to staff and customers.
This should include checking whether ventilation systems need to be serviced or adjusted so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels, for example.
What’s more, in addition to following guidance on managing legionella risks - which are heightened by water system stagnation due to lack of use - operators should check that work surfaces, equipment and utensils used in food preparation have been decontaminated, ensure that all areas are free from evidence of pest activity, and check the availability of handwashing and cleaning materials including soap and paper towels.
Keeping a venue clean
The Government’s guidance advises pub and bar operators to ensure frequent cleaning of regularly touched objects and surfaces - including counters and tills - and put adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products in place.
Surfaces and objects – such as tables, card machines, chairs, trays and laminated menus - should be cleaned between each customer use while work areas and equipment should also be decontaminated between uses, using usual cleaning products.
Furthermore, operators should adhere to a thorough schedule to ensure that surfaces and equipment are cleaned when they need to be.
An open-door policy is also advised, with the Government suggesting that operators wedge doors open, where appropriate, to reduce staff and customer touchpoints – though this does not apply to fire doors.
On top of this, operators should maintain good ventilation in the work environment by opening windows and doors frequently, where possible.
Recognising that cleaning measures are already likely stringent in kitchen areas, the Government advises pub and bar operators to consider the need for additional cleaning and disinfection measures on top of existing guidance on cleaning food preparation and service areas.
This includes cleaning and disinfecting food areas and equipment between tasks - especially after handling raw food - cleaning “as you go”, using suitable cleaning and disinfection products and taking suitable steps to avoid the build-up of food waste.
What’s more the Government advises frequent hand washing throughout the day including before handling plates and cutlery.
Handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets
To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day, the Government suggests operators use signs and posters to build awareness and provide regular reminders of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely - or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
Staff members should also be advised to wash their hands after handling customer items and before moving onto another task - for example, after collecting used plates for cleaning and before serving food to another table.
What’s more, hand sanitiser should be provided in multiple locations throughout both back and front of house in addition to washrooms.
Furthermore, clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets should be set to ensure they are kept clean and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
PPE and face coverings
According to Government guidance workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against Covid-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of infection.
“When managing the risk of Covid-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial,” it states. “This is because Covid-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.
“The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises use of PPE. For example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers.”
However, the Government’s guidance advises that there are some circumstances where a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure.
A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It can be made at home and just needs to cover your mouth and nose. Ultimately, customers and workers who want to wear a face covering voluntarily should be allowed to do so.
Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on as well as before and after removing it.
What’s more, when wearing a face covering, staff should avoid touching their face or face covering, as they could contaminate them with germs from their hands.
Staff should also change their face covering on a daily basis, if it becomes damp or if they have touched it.
Coverings shouldn’t replace distancing measures
However, the Government's guidance states that social distancing should be practised wherever possible and that face coverings should not be used as an alternative measure.
“It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing,” guidance states.
“These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.”